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Boating Accidents in Florida: What the Law Says


Florida is home to some of the most beautiful stretches of oceans and lakes in the world.  It is no surprise, then, that large numbers of Florida residents own and operate a boat or marine vessel year-round.  While boating can be a great outdoor leisure activity, it certainly isn’t without risk of personal injury.

In 2020, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported 534 injuries from boating accidents.  When a boating accident causes bodily injury to the owner or one of the passengers on board, these individuals will likely want to know what legal recourse they have against the other boat operator.

If you are a Florida resident and boat owner, consider reading this article before the next time you take your vessel out for the day.  The information that follows is designed to give readers a basic understanding of laws and procedures to follow when filing a personal injury suit against negligent boat operators.

Understanding Florida Boat Insurance 

To understand your options for taking legal action after a boat accident, it is important to understand how Florida’s insurance framework operates in regards to owning a boat.  Florida is a no-fault insurance state, meaning that in most situations all parties involved in an accident will report the accident to their insurance providers, who will handle claims for damages regardless of who was at fault.  This is typically referred to as personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage.

That being said, there are two major considerations to keep in mind when determining your options to file a personal injury lawsuit following a boating accident.  First, unlike auto insurance, Florida does not require boat owners to have boat insurance.  This means that in certain circumstances, you may be able to pursue litigation without first having to go through insurance providers.

Second, even in situations in which both boat owners have PIP insurance, it is still possible for you to pursue legal action against the other person if you can prove that you incurred a serious injury as a result of their negligence.  Both of these terms are explored more in the following section.

Understanding “Serious Injury” and “Negligence”

To successfully enact a personal injury suit against another boat operator, you will need to prove that the other driver was negligent in a way that led to the accident.  Were they drinking alcohol?  Were they disobeying posted waterway signs?  These are examples of factors that can show that the other driver was acting in a negligent manner.

Additionally, you will need to prove that a serious injury resulted from the accident.  Broken bones, significant disfigurement, substantial limitations of bodily functions, and/or having to go on full disability for at least 90 days are all considered viable forms of evidence in proving serious injury.

Professional Guidance

With over three decades of experience in personal injury litigation, Payer Law has been helping individuals get the compensation they deserve after sustaining injuries in boat accidents.  Contact the Orlando boat accident attorneys at Payer Law today to learn more about your rights to legal action and compensation following a boat accident.




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